This article provides an overview and critical assessment of the intense efforts made to reform French labour market institutions and labour law during the Presidency of François Hollande (2012–2017) and the first eighteen months of the Presidency of Emmanuel Macron. It focuses on the provisions of the El Khomri Act of 2016, the Macron Orders of 2017 and the 2018 Act reforming lifelong learning institutions. The article identifies a strong continuity between the two presidencies, except for the 2018 lifelong learning reform which aims at introducing real change. Compared to the German Hartz reforms of 2002–2005 (similar in scope and importance), and situating European reform strategies within a range of policy options, the article argues that the French reforms correspond to a particular version of ‘flexicurity’, characterized by strong State involvement in labour market policies but also leaning increasingly towards flexibilization and individualization. The article ends by highlighting the limits of the French strategy, especially in the context of slow growth and social unrest in 2018–2019, and outlines a number of principles and orientations that may lead to more efficient and acceptable policies.
International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations